References: Venomous Snakes - Acton, Texas A quick note about venomous vs. poisonous. There are no...

References: Venomous Snakes - Acton, Texas A quick note about venomous vs. poisonous. There are no poisonous
References: Venomous Snakes - Acton, Texas A quick note about venomous vs. poisonous. There are no poisonous
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Transcript of References: Venomous Snakes - Acton, Texas A quick note about venomous vs. poisonous. There are no...

  • This publication is designed to educate people about

    venomous snakes. It also serves to help dispel some of

    the misinformation and fears people have about these

    amazing creatures.

    We are only focusing on venomous snakes in North

    America but the general principles of education and

    conservation can apply to venomous snakes anywhere.

    There are several types of venomous snakes in North

    America that are not harmful to humans but are toxic to

    prey like earthworms and slugs. However, we are only

    highlighting the venomous snakes that are considered

    toxic to humans.

    A quick note about venomous vs. poisonous. There are

    no poisonous snakes in North America. In fact there is

    only one known poisonous snake in the world, the keel-

    back snake, and it is also venomous. So what’s the dif-

    ference between poisonous and venomous? Poisons are

    either ingested or topically (skin) delivered. Examples

    of poisonous organisms are poison dart frogs. You

    have to handle and/or eat the frogs to get sick from

    their poisons. Venom on the other hand is injected.

    Examples of venomous organisms are bees, spiders, and

    snakes.

    Email: wanderingherpetologist@gmail.com

    Website: wanderingherpetologist.com

    For more copies or a free electric version of

    this publication please email us.

    The Wandering Herpetologist

    Venomous Snakes

    Facts and Myths

    References:

    1. Frequently Asked Questions About Venomous Snakes. 2007.

    University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology

    and Conservation, Johnson Lab.

    http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/venomous_snake_faqs.sht

    ml

    2. Price, A. H. 2009. Texas Natural History Guide: Venomous

    Snakes of Texas. University of Texas Press. Austin, Texas.

    3. Means, D. B. 2008. Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other

    Adventures in Herpetology. Pineapple Press, Inc. Sarasota,

    Florida.

    4. BioPark Rattlesnakes Used In Ground-Breaking Cancer Re-

    search. 2011. City of Albuquerque.

    http://www.cabq.gov/biopark/zoo/news/biopark-

    rattlesnakes-used-in-ground-breaking-cancer-research

  • Myth: A good snake is a dead snake.

    Fact: Venomous snakes and snakes in general have got-

    ten an undeserved bad reputation over the years. All

    snakes are beneficial and play important parts in their

    ecosystems. Most venomous snakes are apex predators

    that help keep nuisance species like rodents and rabbits in

    check. Their venom is medically important too. Medical

    science is creating new pharmaceuticals from the proteins

    found in snake venom to help treat cancer, heart disease,

    diabetes, and other diseases.

    Hopefully this publication has served to help dispel a few

    of the myths and misinformation about these fascinating

    organisms. We encourage you to learn more about ven-

    omous snakes and the beneficial roles they play in our

    environment.

    (c)2012 The Wandering Herpetologist

    Myth: Venomous snakes cause a large number of casualties

    each year.

    Fact: There are more casualties in the United States due to

    car accidents (37,594), lightning strikes (54), and dog attacks

    (21) each year than from venomous snakebites (5). Approxi-

    mately 7,000-8,000 people are envenomated each year in the

    United States but there is only an average of 5 casualties1. In

    Texas alone, there were more casualties in 2005 from drown-

    ing (308), firearms/hunting (79), and venomous arthropods

    (16) than venomous snakebites (2)2.

    Myth: All venomous snakes are aggressive and willing to

    bite.

    Fact: Like all wild animals venomous snakes will bite when

    threatened. However, these snakes prefer to hide or run-

    away from what they see as a threat. Venomous snakes only

    strike when they are cornered and think they must defend

    themselves. It’s very costly to the snakes to use their venom

    for defense instead of food. For example stories of cotton-

    mouths aggressively chasing people have been easily dis-

    pelled. The snakes will run towards the easiest escape route

    and cover. Unfortunately sometimes people are standing in

    the middle of that route so it seems that the snakes are chas-

    ing them instead3.

    We have two main types of venomous snakes in North

    America: pit vipers and coral snakes.

    Pit vipers are members of

    the Crotalidae family that

    includes rattlesnakes, cop-

    perheads, and cotton-

    mouths. They have heat-

    sensing pits on their faces

    that help them find warm-

    blooded prey like rabbits

    and rodents. Pit vipers

    also have hinged hollow

    fangs.

    Coral snakes are members of

    the Elapidae family that in-

    cludes cobras and kraits. Coral

    snakes are usually red, yellow,

    and black in color. They pos-

    sess fixed fangs that are not

    long and hinged like those of a

    pit viper. Coral snakes are con-

    sidered the most toxic snakes in

    North America.

    Now let’s discuss some facts and myths about venomous

    snakes.

    Myth: All snakes are venomous.

    Fact: There’s about 160 species of snakes in North

    America and only 20 of them are venomous. This means

    that only 12.5% of all snakes in North America are ven-

    omous.

    Venomous Snakes: Facts and Myths

    Pit vipers like this Eastern Dia-

    mondback Rattlesnake have

    heat-sensing pits on thier face.

    Coral snakes in the U.S.

    have red, yellow, and

    black markings.

    (c)184 John E. Holbrook

    Northern Pacific Rattle-

    snakes use their venom

    to capture prey like mice

    and rats.

    There is a greater

    chance of getting hit

    by lightning than

    being envenomated

    by a Cottonmouth.

    Copperheads are shy,

    reclusive snakes that

    attempt to hide when

    they perceive danger.

    Western Diamond-

    back Rattlesnake

    venom is being used

    in cancer treatments4.